Agua Pura Director Tom Carter recently returned from a service trip to Mexico where he taught classes in water testing for community members and also advised and helped repair composting latrines. Because of a sudden family emergency at home he and his wife had to return early, leaving undone part of his program. Current plans are to return in the fall and complete the work, and perhaps to offer other programs as well. Here's his progress report:
Our program started in early July near Mexico City working with a local non-profit to improve sanitation and help provide clean drinking water to families working and living on a garbage dump. In the past, well intentioned service groups have tried to help by building composting latrines. The problem has been that some of the latrines were not well constructed nor were they easy to use or maintain. Some quickly fell into disrepair and were abandoned. Few latrines had any way for families to wash after using them and disease was easily spread.
Because of past expertise and experience, Agua Pura was asked to help advise and assist with rehabilitating the latrines and encouraging families to use them. The principal of urine diverting composting latrines is that when properly used and maintained the fecal material dries out and becomes safe to handle. We opened up some of the old latrines to show that the material inside was dried out and took samples to test for bacteria and other disease organisms. We showed families how to maintain their composting latrines and encouraged them to use them. We also helped to repair the local schools latrine so that the students could use it again and provided a hand washing station for them. Agua Pura will return often to the community to continue our work.
After completing that project we then traveled to Palenque in southern Mexico to continue a program we started last fall. There, working with the Mexican non-profit Amextra we gave a series of workshops on accurate, scientific methods of water testing for bacterial contamination. Many local communities have no access to safe water and have to rely on local water sources that are often polluted. When they test their drinking water and find it contaminated we then help them find simple inexpensive ways to make it safe, such as pasteurization using simple solar reflectors and water pasteurization indicators.
Your generous support of Agua Pura has made our work possible. All of our supplies and teaching materials were provided by your donations. Agua Pura volunteers pay all their own expenses so that 100% of your funds goes to our programs. We are deeply grateful for your help.
With your help Agua Pura has provided hundreds of Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPI's) to families. WAPI's are a simple device that shows when water has been heated enough to make it safe to drink. A new project of ours has been to develop an information card with drawings showing how the WAPI's work without words, for families that don't read English or Spanish. Because of your support you can have a WAPI for your own use. They are good for camping or emergencies when you don't have access to clean water. Send us your name and address to email@example.com and we'll send you one.
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